Medvedev cites Djokovic inspiration after titanic Australian Open victory (VIDEO)
Daniil Medvedev said he drew upon the fighting spirit of the likes of world number one Novak Djokovic, as the Russian won a five-set epic against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open.
Tournament favorite Medvedev was staring at a major upset when he found himself two sets down against the 21-year-old Canadian in Melbourne on Wednesday.
But the Russian second seed saved match point during a stirring comeback before winning a five-set thriller which lasted 4 hours and 42 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Speaking after setting up a semifinal meeting with Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas – whom he beat on the way to last year’s final – Medvedev credited deported world number one Novak Djokovic as providing some of the inspiration for his comeback.
“I didn’t really know what to do so... actually, I don’t know if people are going to like it, but I asked myself what Novak would do,” Medvedev said of the Serbian 20-time Grand Slam king, who is famed for his endurance.
“He’s one of the greatest champions, or Rafa [Nadal] or Roger [Federer] – they’ve won so many matches like this.
“I just thought, ‘OK, I’m going to make him work. If he wants to win it, he’s going to have to fight until the last point. If it’s 5-0, 40-0 to him, I’m going to try to make him tired for the next match. Fight until the last point.’ It worked,” Medvedev added.
In the absence of nine-time champion Djokovic – who was deported in an ugly visa and vaccine saga involving the Australian government – Medvedev has been installed as the tournament favorite in Melbourne.
The 25-year-old’s tactic of recalling the indefatigable on-court spirit of Djokovic worked on Wednesday, as the weary-looking Medvedev slowly turned the tide against ninth seed Auger-Aliassime, taking a third-set tiebreak which was interrupted when the Rod Laver Arena roof was closed because of rain.
“I managed to raise my level during the game, especially in the tie-break. When they closed the roof, I suddenly felt the momentum change in my game: I felt that I could go through the court more, serve better and just started playing better,” Medvedev explained to American great Jim Courier.
Never count @DaniilMedwed out 🙅♂️From two-sets-to-love down, the world No.2 completes the comeback to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(4) 3-6 7-6(2) 7-5 6-4 and advance to his second consecutive #AusOpen semifinal.#AO2022pic.twitter.com/Pbel08qtGM— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2022
Medvedev had looked strangely subdued for the first two sets and later argued with the chair umpire about an apparent issue with the big screen, which the Russian said was showing giant images of Auger-Aliassime’s face and distracting him as he prepared to receive serve.
The Russian also cited the stifling Melbourne heat as a reason for a rash of double-faults he gave up during the match, often at crucial moments.
“In the first-set tie-break I was sweating like hell and I made a few double faults just because my hand was slippery – really slippery,” Medvedev said.
“I was really disappointed with myself because I was like, ‘What can I do better?’ I could change the wristbands or something like this. It helped me to be less sweaty.”
Looking ahead to his meeting with Tsitsipas – who was impressive in a straight-sets demolition of Jannik Sinner earlier in the day – US Open champion Medvedev said he expected a tough test against a man whom he holds a 6-2 advantage in head-to-to meetings, and with whom he has previously traded barbs over the Russian’s style of play.
“It’s a semifinal of a Grand Slam, so even if I’m in the worst shape of my life, I’m going to fight my best and try to make it tough for my opponent,” said Medvedev.
“Stefanos is a tough player. We’ve had a lot of matches [against each other] already; a lot of tough ones, a few of them I won, a few he won. Last year [in the Australian Open semifinal win] I managed to play pretty well, so I just hope that I’m going to serve well and play my best tennis.”